Story superpowers celebrated this World Book Day

World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is a double celebration for OUP this year.

We’re delighted that OUP book Marv and the Ultimate Superpower is one of this year’s special £1 books. We’ve also published our analysis of language based on 44,000 children’s stories submitted to this year’s BBC 500 Words competition, ahead of the results announcement on World Book Day.

Join Marv’s special adventure

Want to join in this five action-packed mini tales as Marv embarks on his latest adventures?

Hear from his trusted robot sidekick Pixel, learn that even super-villains have moments of selflessness, and hear Marv’s own super-powered advice on being kind.

World Book Day works with publishers to create a list of books to appeal to a wide range of children at all ages, interests, and stages of reading. Children and young people in the UK have access to a £1 book token which they can use on any of the chosen World Book Day titles.

Marv and the Ultimate Superpower  by Alex Falase-Koya and illustrated by Paula Bowles is available for just £1.

Exploring children’s own adventures

We’ve also revealed our report exploring the language in the stories submitted in this year’s 500 Words competition — the UK’s largest children’s story writing competition for ages 5-11, led by the BBC.

OUP is a partner of the competition and as part of our ongoing research, our Children’s language experts analysed the creative writing to see how children are using language in new and unusual ways to communicate, particularly in comparison to the previous competition in 2020.

For example, use of the word AI has surged four-fold since 2020 with mentions of AI in 2023 often associated with a dangerous entity.

“The thick black, dense sky engulfed the cities, whilst the yellow grass lining the Earth was dry as skeletons’ bones. Grey murky water passed through the rivers. This was all because of AI. You would have thought humans would be top of the food chain, however, this was not so: a manufactured object had taken over.” (A NEW DAWN, girl, age 9)

Lioness was used over a third more than in 2020. Whilst almost all instances of Lioness(es) in 2020 were references to the animal, over half of the mentions in 2023 were in reference to football.

“I grew up and got better and better at football and now I’m a lioness. Never give up.” (THE LIONESS LEGEND, girl, age 10)

Children were also more likely to write about neurodiversity in their stories in 2023. The words autistic, autism, and ADHD all occurred more frequently, and children often described them as a superpower. 

“Having ADHD and autism is pretty cool because it makes me different and if we were all the same the world would be a pretty boring place.” (UNIQUE ME, boy, age 10) 

50 lucky finalists were invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Her Majesty the Queen. Find out the winners on Thursday 7 March in a special episode of The One Show on Thursday at 7pm UK time on BBC One and available on iPlayer after broadcast.

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